Researchers at the University of Massachusetts will present this week at the meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which is being held this week in San Diego (United States), their advances in the injection of nanoparticles into the retinas of mice to get them infrared vision to be able to see in the dark.
Gan Han, main investigator of the project supported and funded by the University of Massachusetts and the Human Frontier Science Program, explains that in the future these investigations could provide humans with a way to “see the whole new universe, with night vision without sophisticated equipment or allow them to carry out astronomical exploration by infrared with the naked eye.”
Human eyes can detect light at a wavelength between 400 and 700 nanometers. For its part, infrared light has longer wavelengths, from 750 nanometers to 1.4 micrometers
In a study published at the beginning of the year, researchers, who belong to the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, proceeded to inject a special type of nanomaterial behind the rodent’s retina, called upconverting nanoparticles (UCNP). One of the tests to measure the effectiveness of the experiment was to place the mice in a “Y” shaped tank. A branch of the tank had a platform where mice could escape the water. The scientists trained the mice to swim towards the triangle-shaped light.
“The mice with the injection of particles could see the triangle clearly and swim towards it, but the mice without the injection could not see or distinguish the difference between forms,” Han said.
The effect of the injection of nanoparticles in the mice lasted ten weeks in the mice and caused no secondary damage. However, Han explains that the UCNPs used are inorganic and have some drawbacks.
“The biocompatibility is not completely clear, and we need to improve the brightness of nanoparticles for human use,” Han adds. Now, the team is experimenting with UCNP composed of two organic dyes, rather than rare earth elements. “We have shown that we can make organic UCNP with much better brightness compared to inorganic ones,” he says. These organic nanoparticles can emit green or blue light, in addition to having improved properties. The next step of the experiment is to perform these tests with dogs.